Paper Matters Blog
Back-to-School Shopping: 2022 Market Trends


Wow! The back-to-school shopping season is upon us! This year flew by and parents everywhere are preparing their budgets and shopping lists while marketers are strategizing for their fall campaigns. Back-to-school shopping is one of the largest mass-spending events of the year; but how are the ever-growing inflation rates affecting consumer spending?

With the continuous concern of rising inflation, shoppers are faced with the unpredictability of how much higher pricing could get. Following the pandemic, many families are reassessing priorities; costs, sustainability and the mental health of their children are taking precedent on what’s weighing the most on parents’ minds.

I’ve broken down Deloitte’s annual Back-to-School survey to help you understand how consumers are thinking so that you can finetune your marketing strategy.

How Much Is Inflation Impacting Your Wallet?

In June, the consumer-price-index rose a whopping 9.1% from last year, the largest gain since 1981. The price of household necessities has continued to increase in the last month. Gas prices rose 11.2% in June, compared to just one month prior. Energy service prices, including electricity and gas, have risen 3.5% which is the biggest jump since 2006. Food costs, meanwhile, have climbed 1% and 10.4% – again, the highest rise since 1981. In short, money is tight.

Last year, many parents received $1,400 per qualifying dependent which amounted to approximately $250 per child per month tax credit allowance for the second half of the year. Although this stimulus helped families cope with rising costs during the pandemic, this year parents no longer have this luxury. In 2022, 33% of parents reported being in a worse financial situation than the year prior, compared to the 22% of parents reporting the same for the year 2021.


2022’s Top Trends

According to Deloitte’s 2022 back-to-school survey, parents will be investing in more traditional purchases, as opposed to spending on the technology purchases made during virtual learning. Although digital usage isn’t going anywhere and it’s higher than it was pre-pandemic, this year’s parents are more likely to shop in-store, versus relying on social media, online shopping and new tech tools. Switching back to full-time in-person learning will be another big transition for children and their families.



Families are back to being on the go, attending events, taking vacations and returning to offices making apparel in high demand this year. Just think—this year, people will need to wear SHOES to work and school and will need to purchase new clothing, bookbags and many other back-to-school necessities and accessories.



The pandemic caused a shift in priorities that weren’t as big of a concern in the past two years. Sustainability, for example, has become one of the top topics of discussion and can be a sticking point for consumers.

HALF of the parents surveyed state that they opt for environmentally responsible or responsibly sourced products dependent on availability. This trend, however, comes with a cost to the wallet! On average, sustainable shoppers are spending about 22% more than other shoppers.

As for the other half of the parents? The survey reports that this upcharge has deterred them from making sustainability-based purchases. Regardless, data also determined that all income groups have shown interest in purchasing such.


Mental Health

One of the few benefits of the pandemic is that it’s inspired many parents to pay closer attention to their children’s mental health. 50% of parents polled are more invested in their child’s mental health, while 33% reported already addressing this concern.

Socialization skills, technology dependencies and the ability to be focused while sitting at a desk and back with their peers INSIDE a classroom add to the stack of current parent worries.

According to the Deloitte Insights podcast based on their back-to-school study, Alex Vaz, senior manager of Deloitte’s cyber practice, says 51% of parents have spent extra funds on extracurricular activities in attempts to combat these issues. These concerned parents are predicted to spend 8% more than the average back-to-school shopper.


Community Classrooms

It’s no secret that teachers have always purchased certain class-needed items themselves for their students, but even this amount has risen since the pandemic. Don’t hesitate to ask teachers directly what their stockpile may be needing. Sadly, for now, there is no sure answer on when the pricing of even the most basic products such as tissues or art supplies will return to “normal.”

Although many schools are using learning tools such as laptops and tablets, it’s still imperative to note that November’s survey via the Paper and Packaging Board found that 85% of those polled think paper is still a major key player in learning. Retaining knowledge is statistically shown to be easier after physically reading a book or writing out notes. Flashcards are still a great way to quiz your child or have them quiz themselves on things they need to know for the next big test.

Together, we can all do our part to make the upcoming school year as smooth a transition as possible for our kids, but also, their teachers.

Ideas for businesses and marketers to encourage back-to-school shopping:

  • Offer budget-friendly alternatives to keep up with the competition
  • Promote substitutions for products in case of supply chain issues
  • Use social media to encourage engagement
  • Offer future-use coupons
  • Launch a back-to-school loyalty program
  • Offer in-store pickup as a delivery method at checkout to get more online shoppers to visit your store
  • Run a last-chance sale
  • Host a giveaway or contest
  • Run direct mail campaigns with coupons or QR codes
  • Collaborate with other brands to expand your social media reach


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Nicholas Pearson
Marketing Specialist
Meredith Collins
Customer Marketing Manager
John Parke
Customer Marketing Manager
Paige Goff
Vice President of Sustainability
Deborah Corn
Domtar Paper
Roland Basdeo
Graphic Designer
Susan Jones